Why She Won’t: 16 Reasons Why Women Say “No” To Sex

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no to sex
Insistent man trying to get sex and his worried girlfriend denying on a couch in the night at home

Guys not getting any. It’s a problem so common it’s one of the biggest relationship cliches in our culture. Yet for all we talk about it, real causes and solutions are rarely suggested. Instead, we shrug our shoulders. Men insult women and women insult men while both groups repeat the same, sad, stereotypical explanations, widening the communication gap between the sexes and accomplishing absolutely nothing. But the truth is, there are common reasons for for womens’ reluctance. Some are our fault, some are yours, and some are nobody’s fault at all!

So for all you straight guys out there who are tired of being told that you’re not getting any because you’re just not good enough, or that it’s because women just don’t like sex, or any other tired answers that aren’t getting you any closer to having the sex you want, here are some common possibilities – and solutions – to consider. Remember, you may be dealing with more than one issue, so look for combinations of these reasons as well.

Reason #1. Her testosterone is low.

Testosterone, while more abundant in men, is the same hormone that drives a woman’s desire for sex. If her levels are low, desire will drop.

How To Know If This Is The Case: If she reports chronic difficulty getting aroused as her reason for having no interest in sex, low testosterone may well be the culprit.

What You Can Do: She should talk to her doctor about the issue, and if that doctor doesn’t listen, find one who will (some doctors may ignore women’s sexual problems or say that they’re “normal”). There are hormone replacement options available, as well as prescriptions for sexual enhancement.

Reason #2. The sex sucks – and she doesn’t want to tell you (or she already has).

Bad sex is not just tedious and awkward – when it’s happening in a relationship, it can be heartbreaking, especially if your partner is having all the fun. Many women have a difficult time or are embarrassed about articulating their sexual needs to their partners, and may even give them a false impression from early on that things are going well.

This is irresponsible, to be sure, but at the same time, many men are unwilling to do what it takes to give their female partners pleasure. Even if you’re not the kind of idiot who’s too lazy to do the work or makes her feel like there’s something wrong with her because she doesn’t automatically get off when you do, she may have dated someone before who was.

How To Know If This Is The Case: She seems wishy-washy about whether or not she wants sex. She may seem generally interested or even quite enthusiastic about sex as a topic, but she makes excuses not to have sex with you. If you know that you’ve regularly decided it’s okay to ignore her requests in the bedroom, this is almost definitely why you’re not getting laid.

What You Can Do: Decide whether the problem is due to her not communicating, you not listening, or both. Tell her you want start from scratch and figure out what it takes to make her happy. Then, when you get her in the bedroom, listen. Ask questions. Don’t take anything for granted (“Every woman loves it when I do this!”) and leave your pride outside. Everyone has to learn how to please their partner, and there’s nothing wrong with you if you don’t instantly and magically know everything.

Reason #3. She’s secretly kinky.

This is related to reason #2: there is a myth that women aren’t interested in wild, kinky, or weird stuff. In reality, we’re just as likely to get our gears cranked through exotic means as men are. She might be into a little bondage or spanking or roleplay, or even something stranger. And if this is what really turns her on, sex might be something of a regular disappointment.

How to know if this is the case: if she’s into kinky stuff, she may be trying to give you subtle hints. She may have asked you what you think about certain activities, or she might ask your opinion on certain products or even anecdotes about other people doing crazy things. She could make jokes (that aren’t really jokes) about being turned on when you playfully smack her butt or get her tangled in the bed sheets. And if you’ve ever caught her looking at kinky porn? No mistake!

What you can do: Ask her point blank – but with an encouraging smile on your face! – if she’s into kinky stuff. If she is, she may be shy talking about it at first, and she may need you to take the lead in incorporating new activities into your bedroom routine, but for a kinkster, having an indulgent partner is one of the best things in the world.

Reason #4. She’s unhappy in general.

Generally speaking, men and women have polar opposite reactions to stress and grief when it comes to sex: while men will often want more sex as a comfort and distraction from what ails them, women are more likely to withdraw and want sex less. This might mean that if the two of you are sharing your life and sharing stress factors, the problem will be doubled. Also, all-out clinical depression has the effect of reducing physical sex drive as well.

How to know if this is the case: If your lady used to be ready and randy in the bedroom, but has recently become a cold fish, look to see if there are difficult factors in her life that are making her stressed, sad, or worried. Stressors like unemployment, major life changes, financial trouble, or a loss might be the cause of her sexual reticence, so look for things like this.

What you can do: Depending on what’s going on, you may just have to be supportive and wait this out, but in some cases, talking can help. Explain to her the nature of the problem, and see if she can see the upside of sex as therapeutic and stress-relieving. Helping her de-stress and cheer up can be a good way to help her get in the mood.

Reason #5. She only thinks she doesn’t feel like it.

Physiologically and hormonally, women are different from men when it comes to getting turned on. Because we’re slower to get started, we often don’t crave sex until we’ve already started having it. Women who love sex may initiate it often because we remember how much fun it is, but generally speaking, our sex drives don’t sneak up and pounce on us the way they do for guys. This means that many women who otherwise enjoy sex don’t seek it out or feel “in the mood” all that much.

How to know if this is the case: She enjoys sex and wants to have it, just not very often.

What you can do: Rather than trying to initiate sex, set aside time for lengthy cuddling and making out that might get her in the mood. Be honest about your intentions, but don’t put pressure on her to do anything more. However, make sure she understands and agrees that if you get all worked up from a good petting session, you’re at least entitled to, er, take matters into your own hands, so to speak (as a side note, a woman who has a problem with you masturbating on your own time is nuts).

Reason #6. Something hurts.

It’s possible she’s avoiding sex because something about it hurts or is uncomfortable. She may not have spoken up about it because she thinks there’s nothing that can be done – perhaps sex has always been unpleasant and she doesn’t know it’s not supposed to be.

How to know if this is the case: Think back to sex the two of you have had and ask yourself: “could some of those noises I thought were intense pleasure really signs of intense pain?” Are you going to quickly for her to get turned on (intercourse is painful for a woman who is not sexually aroused)? Is she unusually small, or is your penis unusually big? Size can be a good thing, but it can also hurt – a lot! Also, she may have some anatomical abnormality or other medical problem that needs to be fixed, or she may be experiencing dryness (this is often a side effect of birth control).

What you can do: First, ask her: you won’t be able to help unless she owns up. Then, the solution depends on the problem: if she’s dry, use lube (don’t be insulted), if you’re too big, try some different sex positions or shallower thrusts. If she’s not turned on, go slow and work with her to do more of what she likes. If she has medical problems, it’s time for her talk to her gyno.

Reason #7. You smell.

Simply put, it’s not easy to be close and cuddly with someone with b.o. or bad breath. Remember: not only do guys sweat more, but women have more sensitive noses, so even if you don’t detect a problem, she might. And if you DO notice some odor, there’s almost no chance she doesn’t.

How to know if this is the case: If she regularly nags you to please shower or brush your teeth, these problems could be keeping her at a distance. She may think she’s being clear enough about this, but her version of a less-than-subtle hint might be completely undetectable to you.

What you can do: Get your butt in the bathroom.

Reason #8. She’s an abuse survivor.

Estimated statistics are that 1 in 3 women is a victim of rape or sexual assault. Most of these incidents don’t happen in dark alleys, but are committed by someone the victim knows in a familiar setting. They also often happen to adolescents and children, who may have repressed the memory of the experience. However, even with repression, feelings of fear connected to sex may still be there.

Though not all survivors experience sexual problems, it’s not at all uncommon for some to associate sex (or certain sex acts) with trauma and violence. Don’t take it personally – human survival instincts can cause our brains to be irrational and afraid of our most trusted loved ones.

How to know if this is the case: If sex, or your efforts to initiate sex, seem to make her anxious and fearful or in some other way seriously upset, you may be dealing with majorly bad memories.

What you can do: Talk about it. If she only has a problem with certain acts, you can avoid those. But if her memories are repressed, there’s not much she can do. Counseling and therapy may be able to help, but getting over problems like this can take a long time. If you’re willing to wait and work through things with her, good for you. But if sex isn’t in your future as a couple, it may be time to re-evaluate, to think about opening things up, or just being there for her as a friend.

Reason #9. She feels ashamed.

As much progress as our culture has made, there’s still plenty of Puritanical shame floating around. This often hits women the hardest, as we’ve long been taught that the only way to be “pure” is to be uninterested in sex for any reasons other than childbirth, and that anything else is “dirty” or “sinful.”

How to know if this is the case: If she’s always too embarrassed to talk about sex – or to hear other people talk about it, whether it’s in public, private, or just between the two of you.

What you can do: This problem requires a “tough love” approach: she needs to realize that her prudish conditioning is hurting the relationship, and that she doesn’t have any claim of a moral high ground by acting like a Victorian in the 21st century! If she’s willing to work on her issue, great. If not, dump city.

Reason #10. She’s just not that into you.

Lots of us hold on to relationships we’re no longer interested in – we may be afraid to be alone, or just afraid to end things, but whatever the reason, women who are feeling lukewarm about their boyfriends will often distance themselves by not having sex.

How to know if this is the case: If you discuss why you’re not having sex and she gives you different reasons all the time without seeming interested in any solutions, she’s probably trying to cover up the real problem. She could be procrastinating on telling you that things are over. Also, if she’s reluctant to spend time with you at all, this is a good indication that your relationship is on its way out.

What you can do: Ask her for the truth: does she want to break up? Don’t beg or plead or live in denial, just ask flatly. If it’s over, it’s over.

Reason #11. She thinks sex = disrespect.

This is related to #9: the same silly puritanical notions about women’s purity often lead some women to believe that if a guy has sexual desire for a woman, he can’t respect her as a person. This female version of the Madonna/whore complex can also be the result of some misguided man-bashing that pretends to be feminism.

How to know if this is the case: She may throw around words like “objectification” in connection with any instance of a man appreciating a woman’s body, or get angry with you when you tell her she looks hot in skimpy clothing. If her idea of acceptable sex is dry, dutiful, and devoid of anything raunchy, dirty, noisy, kinky, sweaty, or in any other way fun, this is probably her issue.

What you can do: Again, go with the tough love approach. The relationship may be redeemable if this is a subconscious notion and she’s willing to fight it. But if putting in time and effort doesn’t help, being with a woman who misconstrues your desire for her in this way just isn’t worth it. If loving, respecting, and admiring a woman makes you feel hot for her, you deserve a girl who appreciates this.

Reason #12. She thinks her body doesn’t measure up.

No matter how much we talk about unrealistic standards of beauty for women, the problem seems to be getting worse, not better. It’s almost impossible for women not to be at least somewhat affected by the constant message that we don’t measure up. Some women take this to an extreme and become utterly convinced that their bodies are disgusting and sexually unappealing, and despite having a partner who’s interested in them, they’re too preoccupied with their insecurities to go through with sex.

How to know if this is the case: She constantly complains about her appearance – that is, she seems genuinely distressed by a weight gain or some other problem (not just a little wistful “I wish I looked like…”). She calls herself names or cries about not being “pretty enough.” She’ll only ever have sex in the dark or covers up her body to keep you from seeing her naked.

What you can do: Realize that she’s been brainwashed and needs to be reconditioned. There may be more factors in her life than the media – previous verbal abuse centered around her appearance, perhaps, which may be helped by counseling. You, however, can also help her with a combination of caring and firmness: tell her constantly that you find her attractive, remind her that your body isn’t “perfect” either (assuming you’re not a model) and that you love her and want her as she is. At the same time, however, gently remind her (using “I” statements) that the lack of sex is not fair to you and she’s making her worries more important than your needs.

Reason #13. She doesn’t know what she likes.

Whether it’s because of cultural blindness or just the realities of anatomy, the fact of the matter is that women’s bodies are usually more difficult to figure out when it comes to sexual pleasure. And believe it or not, we woman are often almost as confused as you guys are about what it takes to ring our bells, especially since our bodies are different from one of us to the next. Many of us make it to our 20s without experiencing our first orgasm – how often does that ever happen to men?

How to know if this is the case: No subtle hints, here. Just ask her!

What you can do: We have a lot of silly cultural notions about masculinity and the idea that a guy is supposed to be entirely responsible for whether or not a woman enjoys sex. But nowadays, we can start to embrace the idea that as a couple, you both share responsibility for your own and each other’s pleasure. Use “we” statements (“We’ll figure this out together”) and start researching. There are books galore on the subject of sexual pleasure, as well as web articles, columns and podcasts (highly recommended are the Savage Lovecast and the Sex Is Fun podcast). Shop for toys together (vibrators are great for the orgasmically inexperienced) and porn that she’ll enjoy. And don’t rush things: be patient, recognize small progress, and you’re on your way.

Reason #14. She’s using sex to control you.

There are some women in the world who feel that their only goal and aspiration in life is to be attached to a “perfect” man – a guy who can be her accessory and status symbol. For women like this, sex is not an enjoyable, shared experience but a bargaining chip she uses to get you to act the way she wants you to.

How to know if this is the case: She’s controlling of all aspects of your life and constantly disapproving. She makes rules to control your sexual habits, as well as rules for everything else. She tries to keep you away from friends. And speaking of friends, all of yours may have already told you she’s bad news.

What you can do: Dump her and run. Yesterday.

Reason #15. She’s just not interested in sex – and doesn’t think you should be.

Sometimes, there isn’t any solution that’s going to get her interested in having sex because it’s just not something she cares about. As unfathomable as it may seem to the rest of us, there are people in this world who just aren’t interested in this most wonderful pastime. Call it a matter of personal taste.

How to know if this is the case: If everything else has failed, if every attempt to spark her interest has missed the mark, she may not want to have this problem solved.

What you can do: It’s bargaining time. It’s not too much to ask to have your sexual needs met, and even if she’s just not interested, you are. Maybe there are ways you can agree to indulge her outside the bedroom but remember, a healthy relationship is a collaboration to make each other happy, not a set of quid-pro-quo bargains. If she can’t be persuaded, or if you’re just not interested in sex with someone who doesn’t care about it, it’s time to open up the relationship or end it.

Reason #16: She’s gay.

Even in these enlightened times, many gay and lesbian folks are still in the closet and remain there well into adulthood and relationships. She may secretly be trying to live her life as as heterosexual, but just can’t fake it in the bedroom.

How to know if this is the case: most likely, stereotypes about lesbians won’t be as good an indicator as other factors. Look at her upbringing and family for signs of anti-gay pressure (people who feel free to come out nearly always do, so an accepting family would make this problem unlikely). Also, if she’s closeted, she’s likely to display a conflicted attitude about gays and lesbians. Look for expressions of heterosexuality that seem forced or fake. If her personal history is full of stormy and deeply emotional friendship with other women, this might be an indicator as well.

What you can do: you can’t “turn” her straight, so don’t even think about it. The only thing you can do is try to find out for certain and, if she’s not into men, end the relationship or turn it into platonic one.

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Craig is the founder of LifeGuider, he is dedicated to improving not only himself but also others in being more physically fit and mentally capable of handling life's challenges. He is not your regular life coach, no fancy clothes or fast cars, just a regular "Ole Joe" who has experienced the ups and downs of life like everyone else.

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